A Life That I Love

Our road is most likely similar to many other rural lime rock roads. Rutted and overgrown in places by grass and weeds, with low spots that collect the rain and high spots that shun it. A very ordinary lime rock road indeed. Dusty and bumpy, with overgrown shoulders.

 

Should I find it hard then, to explain why it would produce such comforting emotions in me, by simply making the turn down it at the end of a day at work? Or even on a day off, when I’ve been wandering, which is one of my favorite things to do, there is something that welcomes me as soon as I pass the mailboxes at the end. It is an embrace that begins at the corner and grows warmer and tighter the further down the road I come.

 

I guess it is obvious, I suppose, that it is the home at the end, that beckons and whispers in my ear, but there are so many pieces and parts that make this place a home. The familiar gate, the canine faces that appear and bark and whine, just within it, as if to sing a song of welcome to a lonely traveler’s heart. The paws that bounce off my legs, no matter how many times I have scolded them to stay down, that in fact are just a part of the song and dance that is hello. A bit of roguish misbehavior that has never quite been trained away, perhaps because I secretly love the act and what it means.

 

The ragged yard that is never quite evenly cut with random holes dug in the chase of some bug, unseen. The messy flower beds that never seem to grow exactly what is planted in exactly the way they were planned. Trees in need of trimming, weeds in need of pulling, shredded toys in need of discarding. Steps in need of sweeping, leading to a porch that always has an odd assortment of things that decidedly, do not belong on a porch but never seem to find their way back to where they do belong. A porch with a swing for sitting that never quite has enough open space to allow much sitting at all.

 

On those days when I am the last one home, sometimes if my timing is right, the door opens and the one who makes this old house in need of much, seem so abundant and so much like the best house around to be coming home to, smiles a “hello”. Not just a simple “hello”, though not flamboyant, but one that means so much more because not only is it spontaneous but because I know it is mirrored on my own face. Our smiles of greeting for each other are complete, they are not just a passing gesture of the mouth but a choreographed movement that engulfs the whole of our faces, from laughing eyes to the affectionate tilt of our heads.

 

Why should this messy, ill kept, dusty old house reach out to hug my soul so? Because it holds all that makes a life. The memories and mementos of time spent between best friends. The odd ticket stub or yard sale find that never quite found its place. The empty box saved for some long forgotten use that once held some long forgotten treasure. Dusty pictures on the dusty mantle of days gone by but fondly remembered. A perfect example of what makes a structure a shelter, a shelter an abode, a house a home.

 

The cross on the wall reminds me of how much I am blessed and how much I have been blessed. It represents the One that is greater than either or both of us. The One who made sure we met, in the most unlikely way. The One who pushed us back together when one or both of us were ready to call it quits. The One who blessed us with more than a love but a friendship and a camaraderie that rises above the romance of a young love to a kind of joining together that mere love or lust could never attain or sustain.

 

This rutted and overgrown lime rock road draws me back and welcomes me in because it leads to a life that I love, with all its trials and troubles. A house that is home and a heart that is true and ruthless in its love and friendship. A comforting hug, a hand in mine. A place where I will always matter, a soul that will always care for me. A dog in a window, steps that will always lift me back up, and a porch light that will always show me my way home.

 

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Forgiveness

Eph 4:31   Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Eph 4:32   Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

As time drifts along, it becomes apparent that changes happen when I’m not looking. Things that seemed so foreign not so very long ago, seem so common place now.

I like to think of myself as a pretty forgiving kind of guy. I’m usually pretty good at understanding when mistakes are made and of course, it helps when there’s an apology but in reality, true apologies are rare and I’ve learned that if the only way I’m going to forgive someone is through their apology, then I’m kind of missing the point.

I know that sounds like I get wronged a lot, but that’s not true. I do have a soft heart with most people, so I do get my feelings hurt on occasion but probably not much more than anyone else.

There have always been certain people though, that I’ve held on to grudges against. Not a lot of them but some. They’ve usually been the ones that have done things that were completely out of my control. Especially when they’ve done things that hurt people I cared about. I think those things are hard things to forgive.

I have noticed though that the more I realize some of the things that I’ve done in my life, those things I’m not especially proud of, the things that have hurt other people, the more of those I remember, the easier it has become for me to forgive others.

There’s nothing like watching memories of your own behavior to get you to reexamine the behavior of others.

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You Can Learn So Much In a Year

June 7, 1934 - April 10, 2014

Ronald B. Wendell

6/7/1934 – 4/10/2014

 

I’ve learned a lot in the last year. I’ve learned that disagreements don’t mean much. I’ve learned that pride will rob you blind. I’ve learned that when people are still alive, it’s much easier to remember the bad times and after they die, it’s much easier to remember the good.

 

I’ve learned that all those sappy things that people say about making sure you let people know how you feel about them, are true. I’ve learned that it is much easier to let some people know how you feel about them than it is others. I’ve learned that those people that are the hardest to show how you feel about them, are probably the ones that need to know the most.

 

16

 

Maybe the thing that I have learned the most in the last year is that no matter how you get along with someone, no matter what you choose to remember about them, they weren’t just that person that you remember. I’ve learned that what you remember about a person is filtered greatly by the level of difficulty you had in understanding that person. It is filtered by the difference between you and them, and sometimes, by the ways that you were alike.

 

Maybe the toughest thing I’ve learned in the last year is that sometimes the more strained your relationship was with them, the harder it is to deal with them being gone.

 

The story that I think will always be my favorite about my Dad, was the year that Lori and I needed to replace a section of roof on the back of our house. Lori and I figured that we could do it, we can be pretty handy. I’m not sure how my Dad found out about the upcoming project but he did. As soon as he did, he wanted to know all about it but mostly, when we were going to do it because he was going to be there to help.

 

I can’t remember the exact year or exactly how old my Dad was at the time but he was beyond the age that he should be ripping off an old rotten wood roof and putting on a new tin one over a set of cement stairs. I assured him that Lori and I would take our time and be able to get it done but he wasn’t having any of that. He wanted to know when we were going to do it and what time we wanted him to show up. As much as I tried to dissuade him and as much as I tried to not let him know when it was going to happen, he found out and because we wouldn’t give him an exact time we were going to start, he just told me that he would see me in the morning. In case you didn’t know my Dad, it could be impossible to change his mind, once he had made it up.

 

Dads Birthday

 

My Dad was on blood thinners for a number of years before he died and he had already fallen off his own roof because he didn’t see the need to ask someone else to come clean the leaves and branches off of it. The thought of having my Dad climbing around on partially rotten beams that hung over cement stairs scared the crud out of me. But it became apparent that this was one of those times that it didn’t matter what anyone said, he had made his mind up and he was going to be there.

 

When the morning came, he and my Mom showed up first thing and he was probably the first one up the ladder. The rest of the story is pretty anticlimactic, thank you Jesus. He climbed around that day as easily as I did and probably out worked me in the end. We got the old roof off and the new one on and nobody fell onto the cement stairs below. At the end of the day I hugged him and thanked him and he walked away like it was nothing.

 

1959515_10Dad and I on my seventh birthday.152372620194184_6080915473212017016_n

 

I remember a story that my Dad told me a number of times through the years. He told me that early on in my Mom and his marriage, they were moving from one place to another. The place they were moving out of was upstairs and he had lined up a number of friends that all promised to come and help them move. The morning of the move though, nobody showed up. He told me that it was a hard day moving, that there were some things that were heavy enough that the only way he could get them down the stairs was to put straps around them and basically tie them to his back.

 

It’s funny but for someone who had a hard time talking about his feelings in a calm and cool way, he calmly told me that it wasn’t the actual work that he would never forget but the fact that for whatever reason, nobody that had promised him they would be there, ever showed up.

 

Even though we never asked and even though we tried everything we could to keep him off our roof, I think the reason he wouldn’t take no for an answer was because of that time probably a half a century before when nobody showed up to help.

Did you know, you can learn an awful lot in a year?

Mom and Dad

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All For One

For years now, I’ve had a number of blogs. Each one had its own theme and I kept them seperate. I figured that way, if someone was interested in something that fit into this one theme, they could go to this blog and if they didn’t really care for that, they could go to this one.

I have to admit that I was trying to please everybody by splitting myself up into pieces. All those pieces were parts of me but they were somehow disconnected. I didn’t want to offend anyone. I didn’t want anybody to feel uncomfortable.

Lately, I’ve realized that my thought process might have been a little flawed. I realized that by breaking my writing into pieces, I was losing a lot of what I was about. I realized that the focus shouldn’t be writing for other people really, it should be writing because I wanted to share. Not just share what I thought others wanted to read but sharing the parts of me that might be worth sharing.

The reality was I never wrote much on the blogs. I would get all serious about it and write a post or two on this one or on another one but it never lasted for long. I think some of that was because I was always trying to decide what to write on which one.

I was trying to figure out where things fit in, when really eveytihing I write fits into me. Well, I guess it would be more accurate to say it comes through me. I absorb facts and feelings and overheard conversations. I read an article or some scripture, I watch something on television and my brain mixes it all together and filters it back out through my personality and out the ends of my fingers it comes.

I don’t want you to think that my brain or my filter is any more unique than anyone else’s, I just like to share what rolls around in my head. Some people paint pictures or sculpt clay or draw, I write. I do other things but really when I get back to basics, I write. It is the thing I have wanted to do the longest and when I put time and effort into it, it is the thing that is the most fulfilling for me.

So, to wrap all this up and stop wandering around, what I’m trying to say is, this is where you’ll catch me doing most of my writing. I’ll throw in a picture or two from time to time because photography runs a close second to writing. I enjoy catching just the right shot, the one that isn’t just pretty but that causes someone to feel a feeling or remember a memory. So, there will be pictures but mostly, there will be writing. I’m hoping by simplifying this whole process, it might happen a little more often.

oh yeah, and music………..

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One of My First Loves

Anybody that knows me, knows that Lori is the love of my life. We were truly meant to be together, in fact, we really didn’t have a whole lot of choice, but that’s a different post.

One of my very first loves though, was writing. There is just something about putting words down on a page, or a screen, that people read and get something out of. I’ve just never found anything else that feels the same way. Photography comes close but it isn’t the same.

I guess part of why writing feels the way it does to me is because I’ve never been able to write much that didn’t have bits and pieces of me in it, even when I tried to keep them out. The funny thing is that I don’t necessarily notice it at the time. It’s when I’ve finished and read back through that I realize that I’ve left more on the page than I intended. I guess that’s just the nature of the beast, all these words have to come from somewhere.

Probably one of my favorite things that I’ve ever written was originally written for a column in the Williston Pioneer. I set out to write about an older gentleman who was very important to me and actually helped form the way I looked at the world. I lamented that, because I was so young, I couldn’t really remember exactly what we talked about or even how his voice sounded. I thought it was strange that I could know that he had made such a difference in my life and then not really remember exactly what he did to accomplish that.

I’ve thought about it over the years and a couple things have become clear. Whatever it was that Mr. Thomas said to me while we walked up to the post office every morning, it stuck. Though I’ve wandered away from writing many times, I always come back. I always realize that there is a part of me that isn’t quite realized any other way. Maybe that was what he did for me, he pointed my compass in this particular direction and whenever I need to get my bearings, I get that compass out and the words start to stream out. I’m always a little rusty when I first come back but that’s okay because that’s part of the process. Unlike a real compass that comes around instantly, mine always takes a few swings before it finds true North.

So, in talking about one of my first true loves, I guess what I’m doing is telling Mr. Thomas that I’m back. I might not always write the same sort of things that he did, he was a historian, but I can’t help but hope that some of these words belong to him and I’m just borrowing them to keep them, and maybe him, alive.

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Yulee Railroad Days

Like many other small towns in North Central Florida, Archer‘s size and its make up has changed over the years. In the 1840s to the 1850s, it was known as Deer Hammock and then Darden’s Hammock.  David Levy Yulee, who owned a plantation in the area, changed its name to Archer, in honor of a friend, James T. Archer, the former Secretary of State of Florida, who was a close friend.

From the City of Archer’s website:

“According to Rance Braley’s book Nineteenth Century Archer (available for purchase at the depot), by 1844, Archer had nine general stores, a sawmill, three saloons, a hotel, and many other businesses. In the mid 1890’s, Henry Plant built a rail line through Archer to Tampa.”

David Levy Yulee was born in 1810 and went on to become an attorney, a territorial delegate to Congress, the first Jewish member of the United States Senate, a member of the Confederate Congress during the American civil War and the founder of the Florida Railroad Company. The city of Archer celebrates Yulee Railroad Days in his honor.

I attended this year’s Yulee Railroad Days and came away with a few photos to share.

Firing the CannonIf you put a photographer anywhere near a cannon, it is a guarantee that they will spend as long as it takes to get a shot just as it is fired.

Firing the Cannon

1890’s house

Archer Mansion

One of the exhibits inside Archer’s Railroad Museum.

Inside Railroad Museum

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Town of Tioga Art Festival

Lori and I went to the Art Festival in Town of Tioga yesterday. There was a number of amazing artists there but one in particular stood out.

Eric Shupe, Recurve Creations, made my day with an art form that I had never seen done before. Well, that’s not entirely true, we’ve all seen people make things out of silverware before but Eric’s art is a huge step above anything I’ve seen done with this medium. It literally stopped me in my tracks.

Alissa by Eric Shupe

Click on the image above and go see some more of this artist’s work.

from Eric’s site:

“The most common question I get is “How did you come up with the idea to make things out of silverware?”. The answer usually gets a laugh out of everyone. I was sitting at a table and looked down to see 2 spoons laying upside down next to each other. My first thought was “That looks just like a butt”. So I went with that.”

” This piece (the one pictures above) was one I made of my daughter, Alissa. Alissa is my pride and joy and I wanted to make a piece that captured her beauty and grace.”

The festival is open again today from 10-5 and is definitely worth the trip. For those who might not know where Town of Tioga is, it is between Gainesville and Jonesville on Newberry Road or State Road 26.

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INFORMATION REGARDING SINKHOLES FROM THE FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 12, 2013

CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112DEPNews@dep.state.fl.us

~Facts and information about encountering sinkholes in the state of Florida~

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Geological Survey has compiled the following information to provide a single point source for general knowledge about the nature of sinkholes in the state of Florida and additional information about proper protocol should you ever encounter a sinkhole in an urban area.

Facts about sinkholes in Florida:

-The entire state of Florida sits on top of several thousand feet of limestone. Limestone is a rock that can form with natural void spaces called porosity.  In limestone where the void spaces are connected, the rock is permeable.  Porous and permeable limestone makes great aquifers and provide millions of gallons of fresh drinking water for residents and agriculture. The most significant factor in the development of sinkholes is the dissolution of the limestone underlying Florida by naturally acidic groundwater.

-Sinkholes are a natural and common feature of Florida’s landscape. They are only one of many kinds of karst landforms, which include depressions, caves (both air and water filled), disappearing streams, springs and underground aquifer systems, all of which occur in Florida. Thousands of naturally occurring sinkholes can be seen throughout the state of Florida including many that connect underground to springs, rivers and lakes.

-Sinkholes form in karst terrain from the collapse of surface sediments into underground voids. In Florida one may see solution sinkholes, cover-subsidence sinkholes or cover-collapse sinkholes. The first two types will show very little topographical disturbance to the naked eye, while the third is the type which shows a abrupt change in topography and is most associated with the thought of sinkholes.

Questions about sinkholes in urban and suburban environments:

-My yard is settling… Do I have a sinkhole? Maybe. But a number of other factors can cause holes, depressions or subsidence of the ground surface. Expansive clay layers in the earth may shrink upon drying, buried organic material, poorly-compacted soil after excavation work, buried trash or logs and broken pipes all may cause depressions to form at the ground surface. These settling events, when not verified as true sinkholes by professionals, are collectively called “subsidence incidents.” If the settling is affecting a dwelling, further testing by a licensed engineer with a licensed geologist on staff or a licensed geology firm may be in order. Property insurance may pay for testing, but in many cases insurance may not cover damage from settling due to causes other than sinkholes.

-A sinkhole opened in my neighborhood… should I be concerned? Although sinkholes in Florida sometimes occur in sets, most are isolated events. The bedrock underlying the state is honeycombed with cavities of varying size, most of which will not collapse in our lifetimes. A quick inspection of your property for any sinking or soft areas might be prudent. Unless the sinkhole is very large, and extends to your property, there’s likely to be little reason for concern.

Should a sinkhole open in an area near you the hole should be immediately cordoned off and clearly marked to protect traffic. Contact local law enforcement to report the hazard and call your city or county road department to initiate repair work. If the road is private, repair of the hole is usually the responsibility of the landowner or property owners’ association.

-Is there a safe area of Florida where there is no chance of sinkholes?Technically, no. Since the entire state is underlain by carbonate rocks, sinkholes could theoretically form anywhere. However, there are definite regions where sinkhole risk is considerably higher. In general, areas of the state where limestone is close to surface, or areas with deeper limestone but with a conducive configuration of water table elevation, stratigraphy, and aquifer characteristics have increased sinkhole activity.

Additionally, the Department announced Friday that the Florida Geological Survey, in conjunction with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, has received a $1.1 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to address sinkhole vulnerability. Find more information here.

About the Florida Department of Environmental Protection

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s principal environmental agency, created to protect, conserve and manage Florida’s environment and natural resources. The Department enforces federal and state environmental laws, protects Florida’s air and water quality, cleans up pollution, regulates solid waste management, promotes pollution prevention and acquires environmentally-sensitive lands for preservation. The agency also maintains a statewide system of parks, trails and aquatic preserves. To view the Department’s website log on to www.dep.state.fl.us.

http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLDEP/bulletins/86ddf6

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